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Why I like librarians

Why I like librarians

Patricia Brady-Danzig at a pre-school in Bucharest, Romania, reading “Fabrizio’s Fable” in English and Romanian—-October, 2011.

July 8, 2012

“Fabrizio’s Fable”, my charming children’s book, which was published in May of 2011, has had a very busy year.

Fabrizio and I have visited areas in New Jersey that I have never seen before.  We’ve been in urban, country, seaside and countless other new venues.

What has connected me in my quest to make Fabrizio known to a large public, is the many libraries which have invited us to have book signings.

And, of course, there are the CONNECTORS!  The librarians!  I’ve met many representatives of this noble vocation, both male and female.

I’ve discovered that there are several traits which are common to all the librarians I have met.  They are: 

     COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION 

     CARING CONCERN FOR CHILDREN

     WELL-ORGANIZED PROGRAMMERS

     EXCITEMENT AND LOVE OF BOOKS

     RAPPORT WITH THE PUBLIC

     EAGERNESS TO TRY SOMETHING NEW

     LOVE OF LEARNING

     SUPPORTIVE OF NEW WORKS

     LITERARY

     CONNECTED TO THE WORLD OUTSIDE

             AND THE WORLD OF THE WEB

Because I am in love with the Fabrizio story, and have enjoyed sharing it with so many children and adults, I have been in the center of a totally new world for me—-the world of books.

I’m enjoying my moments with Fabrizio and the new friends we are making.

But mostly, I would like to cheer those who help us so skillfully to inspire and enliven the lives of children everywhere:

      LIBRARIANS!

Patricia Brady-Danzig reading “Fabrizio’s Fable” to children in WORDS bookstore in Maplewood, NJ.

Kentucky 2012

I’ve just today returned from an eventful week in Louisville, Kentucky.

There are a couple of adjustments one needs to make when arriving in the South.  Louisville is pronounced: loo’ uh villllle, not loo ee ville as I was used to.  Another change occurs when one refers to oneself as I ( ah-ee ).  In Louisville, you leave out the ee and just say ah, for example: ah am going.  ah am here.  ah will see yeew later.    (Yes, there’s another one–yoo becomes yeew).

The Kentuckians are laid back folk.  Good ole guys, Hoosiers, with rumpled jeans and plaid shirts.  I found them to be generally helpful and nice to ladies.  African-Americans whom I met seemed more gentle than the busy career people up North.  

While cruising around in my rented car, I saw signs to Nashville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Chicago, Atlanta, Birmingham, Greensboro, Chattanooga and many other familiar names far removed from my own New Jersey.

Kentucky is notable for many things: the birthplace of Abe Lincoln, Henry Clay, Colonel Sanders and KFC, Jefferson Davis, Loretta Lynn, home of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, a vast national UPS complex, U of K winning basketball team, Bellarmine University, Arts High School, Kentucky bourbon, Fort Knox, Cumberland Gap National Park, the Louisville Slugger famous baseball bat, Muhammad Ali center, Stephen Foster, composer of “My old Kentucky home” which became the state song, Rosemary Clooney house, the wondrous Ohio river, Sherman Minton bridge on well traveled route 65, and glorious Louisville in full lighted splendor at night.                       

I was very fortunate to make friends with jolly Italian-American psychology professor Bernardo Carducci, of the University of Indiana East faculty.  Yes, I said Indiana.  I was there also—another state of the US to visit and become familiar with.  IU East is one of 8 IU campuses, and the farthest south.

I have had the pleasure also of having been invited to the main IU campus in Bloomington, and being totally impressed with the musical curricula there.  Among the famous teachers represented have been Madame Virginia Zeani, Martina Arroyo and presently, opera star Carol Vaness.  But I digress.

Professor Bernie, as he likes to be called, arranged for me to be a part of the IUE International Festival, of which he was in charge.  This major event took place on Tuesday, the day after I arrived in Louisville.  Since he is President of the Italian-American cultural association in the Louisville area, he undertook the Festival responsibility as well.  Professor Bernie gathered representatives of many countries together to display their multiple talents, including performers from India, China, and Samoa.

My role was to present my children’s book, “La Favola di Fabrizio”, ( “Fabrizio’s Fable”) written in English and Italian.  At the microphone, to a large crowd, I explained the background of the story, read excerpts and played the Fabrizio Song, which is sung so beautifully by the  Celebration Singers children’s choir of Cranford, New Jersey.

Everybody loved Fabrizio and I was able to sell many copies.  I also played on the piano some popular Italian melodies, including “Volare”, “Arrivederci Roma”, “Tarantella” and “That’s Amore”.  Everybody was singing and dancing and enjoying the Italian-American music. Even the food was authentic.

In addition to all of this, we had 2 accordian players. I hadn’t heard accordians for quite some time, so this was a treat.

Everybody was adorned wearing tall Italian hats in Italy’s tri-colors—green, white and red as emblazoned on the national flag.

I truly enjoyed the day, meeting all the various faculty, performing, publicizing Fabrizio, and having a thoroughly happy time.

On Wednesday, I made my way on the short ride to Indiana once again.  This time, I had been invited by Professor Mariana Farah, head of choral studies, to teach a voice master class.  The class was held on stage at the small performance hall in the Ogle building on campus.

There were 3 young singers, 1 male and 2 female.  They were accompanied by a piano professor.  I was glad to see that they had memorized their music.  The teacher of the young man was present and we were able to chat after the sessions.  All 3 of the students are excellently trained and it was a pleasure to work with them.

Professor Fahra took me to lunch at Applebee’s as her guest.  Since Applebee’s is one of my favorite lunch stops, this was enjoyable also.

I heard afterward that 2 of the IUE voice program students had participated in the NATS competition and that the young tenor had won.  Naturally, I am very happy for him.

Hearing about NATS reminded me of my former voice teacher, Dodie Protero, who had been its president.  It remains one of the most prestigious groups of professional voice teachers in the US.

As a footnote, I learned that IUE is in the town of New Albany, named after my own hometown.  

Later on Wednesday, Professor Fahra invited me to observe her choir rehearsal in the same hall.  There were about 40 singers on stage, including a few participants from the community.  This was interesting, since I have been a community participant this year in the Seton Hall University community choir.  It has been a mind/voice stretching experience.

Professor Fahra is meticulous and dedicated to her Art.  A native of Brazil, she and I became friends immediately.  I admire the teaching that she is doing.  Among the pieces which the choir rehearsed was a Bach chorale which contains a double Fugue and accompaniment on piano that goes like the wind.  This is a tremendously challenging piece, with nonstop vocal challenges.  I loved it!

 I got to know the pianist who, I found out, is a regular organist!  So we two had a lot in common and had a fine long chat.

On Thursday, I was invited by my Hibernian host, Bill Riley, to attend the blessing of the keg.  I knew what a keg is, but had never been to such a ceremony.  It was held at Molly Malone’s, a popular Louisville Irish pub.  In attendance were members of the AOH, ( Ancient Order of Hibernians ), the town mayor, the priest who blessed the keg, many dignitaries, and the gentleman who owns all the fine beer recipes.

I sampled a new beer called Beer Barrel Stout.  The beer is stored in liquor barrels, and absorbs some of its flavor from the wood.  I often tasted my father’s beer as a child.     ( He enjoyed Ballantine’s and Dobler beers ), but I have never tasted anything so delicious in my life. Dark in shade, it is tantalizing.

The many Hibernian gentlemen present, along with their wives and families, sat down to dinner at Molly’s, including myself.  I enjoyed, for the first time, potato chowder, which is very tasty.  Bill and his entourage made sure that I had a fine seat with them.

The Hibernians are a jolly group, devoted to their Irish traditions and have been around for more than 100 years!

On Friday afternoon, I met Bill at Saint Louis Bertrand Catholic church in Louisville, home of the Hibernians.  We visited the old school building where I would be singing on Saturday, and set up the microphone and the area where I would be performing.

At 8 pm on Friday, I was back in Indiana, attending a concert with Professor Claudia Crump, whom I had met at the International Festival.  Claudia had invited me, and we heard the group called VOCES 8 from England.  VOCES 8 consists of 2 women singers and 6 men.  They are an a capella group and are marvelous!  Their repertoire included all kinds of music, from Back to Bernstein.  I was very impressed by their musicianship, and to help celebrate their performance, the larger recital hall was full.

After the concert, my biggest challenge was to arrive home to my hotel, while driving my rented car, on a very black night, on unfamiliar roads.  Because of my speed, I am sure that drivers following me would have liked to give me a push to hurry me up.  Fortunately, my trip was uneventful, though slow, and I arrived back in one piece, and without having to backtrack in the dark.

Saturday morning was a wonder.  I arrived at the old school building very early, observed the Irish chefs preparing the food, ate some of it, enjoyed it very much, and learned something new.  When the Irish eat home baked biscuits, they pour a white gravy over the biscuits—I don’t know why I never came across this before.  But this tasty dish was enjoyed by all, as well as the scrambled eggs, bacon and ham, along with the soda bread.

The entire tableau reminded me of my parents and their social life at the Albany, New York AOH ( Ancient Order of Hibernians ), and of my first public singing appearance at the age of 3.  How very poignant!

Along with my program of Irish songs and stories, ( which were enthusiastically received ), there was an area group of step dancers.  I’m always happy to observe this grand old tradition, which is unique in the world.

After breakfast, we went next door to the Church for Mass.  The pageantry of the Mass was even more meaningful for me, because the Ordinary ( Sanctus, Agnus Dei, etc. ) was sung by the cantor and congregation in Latin.  Here again, I was reminded of my youth, playing the organ at a very young age, and growing up with that stately language, which I revere to this day.

The organist, Tony Clemons,  has been serving Saint Louis Bertrand for over 20 years, and, having been in touch with him several times by phone, it was good to meet him in person. Tony is a pleasure to work with and an excellent musician.

I had the pleasure, at this Mass, of singing with the Hibernian choir, conducted by Sean, ( forgot his last name ), a young man, and graduate of Notre Dame. Sean told me that he had been in the choir at college.  He has a very pleasant voice.

The Hibernians, about 80 of them, were seated in the front pews of the huge Church, and, in addition to the service, grade school children who were winners of the St. Patrick’s coloring contest, were brought to the altar to receive their prizes.

After Mass, I had my photo taken with the Deacon, Reverend Mr. William Klump, a very gracious man, who was attired in priestly robes.

At 3 pm, also on Saturday, I had the great pleasure of riding in the first float in the Hibernians’ St. Patrick Day parade.  What a treat!  I felt like Princess Diana, waving to the thousands of people lining the route—and what a glorious sunny day we had!  All told, there were 125 floats in the parade and it lasted several hours.  After our float finished the route, I was able to stand on the sidelines and cheer the various groups, many of them in “family” wagons.

At this parade, there is a tradition of those riding in floats throwing long green beads to the children watching.  It was a lot of fun to see the children scrambling to pick up the beads and to see how many they could retrieve.

Since I would be cantoring at Sunday Mass, I made the evening an early one, in order to be well rested.

Sunday brought us Daylight Saving Time and more glorious sunlight.  As cantor, I shared the singing duties with the lovely soprano who sings at all the week-end masses.  As I mentioned, we sang several hymns and Mass parts in Latin.  This was most enjoyable.  Organist Tony again was gracious and played the organ beautifully.

Since I had time, I decided to head out to Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby.  This tradition, which has been taking place for more then 130 years, is one of the country’s national highlights each May.

I was reminded of the year, I believe in the 70’s, when I attended a Derby, and had the honor of being photographed with the original Colonel Sanders, dressed in all his regalia.  I remember how all the residents of Louisville in the surrounding area, “rented” their lawns to the visitors.  There wasn’t a visible blade of green grass anywhere!

I arrived yesterday, in time to visit the Kentucky Derby museum, take lots of photos, and participate in a walking tour of the grounds.  Seeing that famous track again was mesmerizing.

I discovered that Churchill Downs was named after the land owner, Mr. Churchill, and that “down” is an English word meaning “field”. 

I also learned that Secretariat, a derby winner, and made famous in the movies, had a heart weighing 22 pounds, whereas the normal size is 7 pounds.  So lots of blood was pumping into that noble heart and helped make Secretariat the legend he became.

As you who are reading this travelogue will agree, my week in Louisville ( loo’-uh-veeele ) was notable, unique and full of interesting surprises.

To preserve all the fine memories of the week, I have prepared a thick notebook, which contains some of every part of my activities. An open invitation is extended to all who wish to flip through its pages.

During my week in Kentucky, many new doors were opened, with lots of interesting activities, friends, tours, discoveries, all of which combined to make my first venture into the “middle” South a life changing experience.

G'bye, y'all!

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